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Making the Best of a Duty Station You Didn’t Want.

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Two years ago, I waited with breathless anticipation for where my husband would get his first official station from the Army. Six years before in the Marines, he’d been stationed at Camp Pendleton and I moved there, then he got out of active duty and we moved home. There was no choice as to where we’d be, but this time there was.

Months before, he’d been able to pick three US and three overseas stations that we would want to be at. We picked places we’d never been: North Carolina, Korea, Georgia – I just knew it was going to be somewhere southern with lots of accents that eventually I’d pick up.

My only two prayers on it? No Texas. And somewhere clean.

Imagine my surprise when my husband told me we were moving to Ft. Bliss, El Paso,  Texas. The site for the base looked like a poster for dust storm and cactus awareness.

texas flag

In the weeks leading up to us moving, I had a hard time wrapping my head around living in the desert. Denver, Colorado isn’t anything close to what it’s like here, and as we drove our two cars down I remember thinking as the hours passed, “It can’t get any drier than where we are now.”

I was wrong.

We finally reached El Paso in June, living in a hotel with 4 cats and a toddler for 10 days while looking for a place to live. The heat was unbearable, 108* every single day. Everything was covered in dirt and sand. I felt like I had moved to the ends of the earth. It certainly looked that way.

It took a LONG time and a heart to heart from my husband about my attitude for me to come to terms with living here. I realized that my feelings about it really didn’t matter; this is where we were stationed and I could have a miserable 2-3 years or make the best of it. I chose to start to look for the good parts. We loved our home. I made friends with children Bella’s age. I found places to take her. Winters were amazing. The small zoo was hardly ever packed and perfect for morning outings. The farmer’s markets went April-October. Ft. Bliss was one of the nicest posts we’d ever seen.

As I began to force myself to try to see the positive in being here, I realized that I was actually comfortable and settling in. There wasn’t that dread of waking up to El Paso, and life became it’s own pattern. In the spring the dust storms kick up, and you learn to live with it. Winter means being outside all day. Driving here means you keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and a prayer on your lips. :)

We are starting to prepare for another duty station in the next 6-9 months, and as we do, the talk of, “What if we don’t get what we chose?” comes up yet again. A little more real this time having had that happen before. The thing is, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Home truly is where the people you love are. If we made it here, we can make it anywhere.

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